Despite conservatives’ continued reluctance to embrace GOP front-runner Mitt Romney, key segments of that bloc are more likely to flock to the former Massachusetts governor than allow President Barack Obama to win a second term, political strategist Bradley Blakeman tells Newsmax.
“The fact is that Romney is going to get those voters. They have no place to go once he’s selected,” Blakeman insisted during an exclusive interview following the Illinois primary on Tuesday. “They’re not going to sit on their hands. They dislike Obama a heck of a lot more than they dislike Romney.”
Although Romney won the day in the Land of Lincoln, he failed to win the evangelical vote, tea party voters, and people earning less than $100,000 a year.
Instead, he appealed to more upscale, moderate voters — a fact that Blakeman, who was a senior member in the last Bush administration, doesn’t necessarily see as a negative.
“These numbers don’t trouble me at all. As a matter of fact, I am heartened by the fact that Romney is winning over voters — the exact kind of voters — we’re going to need in a general election,” said Blakeman, a Fox News and Newsmax contributor.
In the general election, Obama and the eventual Republican nominee are likely to wind up with 45 to 46 percent of the popular vote apiece, if recent history is any indication, Blakeman said.
“You’re fighting over the 8 percent in battleground states, which has been typical of the presidential election cycle for the last few cycles,” Blakeman said. “It’s 8 percent in battleground states, independents — what I call Reagan Democrats — who’ve decided these modern elections and it’s likely to be the same scenario this time around.”
The right vice-presidential selection could further consolidate conservative support around the eventual nominee — even Romney, Blakeman said.
Speaking on Fox’s “Hannity” program on Tuesday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, however, insisted that Romney still can be denied the 1,144 delegates needed to secure his victory.
“Phase 1 has to be stopping Romney because the fact is, if he gets 1,144 votes, he’s the nominee, fair and square, it’s over,” Gingrich acknowledged. “On the other hand, if, as voters look at this — as happened last week for example in Mississippi and in Alabama — as happened the previous week in Kansas — if people say ‘no,’ they don’t want Romney, then I think you get to a situation after June 26 where there’s a 60-day conversation.”
If such a scenario unfolds, Gingrich added that no candidate will emerge as a clear winner of this tempestuous and vitriolic nomination battle.
“Santorum won’t have a majority. I won’t have a majority. Romney won’t. Ron Paul won’t,” he explained. “If that’s what happens, then we’ll have a real conversation.”
Blakeman said he believes the race will be decided after April 3, as more primaries become winner-take-all contests in which no delegates are awarded to candidates who do not have a first-place finish.
“That’s really where Romney needs to accelerate and close the deal,” Blakeman said.
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